DNS attacks cost finance firms millions of pounds a year

The average cost of recovering from a single DNS attack is £711,069 – $924,390 for a large financial services company a new survey.

The costs of restoring services after a DNS (Domain Name System) attack are higher for financial services firms than for companies in any other sector.

According to a survey of 1,000 large financial services firms in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific, the average cost of recovering from a single DNS attack is $924,390 for a large financial services company.

The survey, carried out by network automation and security supplier EfficientIP, and its subsequent 2018 Global DNS threat report found that the average cost of recovery for such finance firms had increased by 57% compared with last year.

It also revealed that financial services firms suffered an average of seven attacks each last year, and 19% of them were attacked more than 10 times.

The survey found that finance firms took an average of seven hours to mitigate a DNS attack and 5% of them spent a total of 41 working days mitigating attacks in 2017. More than a quarter (26%) lost business because of the attacks.

The most common problems caused by DNS attacks are cloud service downtime, compromised websites and internal application downtime.

“The DNS threat landscape is continually evolving, impacting the financial sector in particular,” said David Williamson, CEO at EfficientIP. “This is because many financial organisations rely on security solutions that fail to combat specific DNS threats.

“Financial services increasingly operate online and rely on internet availability and the capacity to securely communicate information in real time. Therefore, network service continuity and security is a business imperative and a necessity.”

Types of DNS attack include:

Zero day attack – the attacker exploits a previously unknown vulnerability in the DNS protocol stack or DNS server software.
Cache poisoning – the attacker corrupts a DSN server by replacing a legitimate IP address in the server’s cache with that of another, rogue address in order to redirect traffic to a malicious website, collect information or initiate another attack. Cache poisoning may also be referred to as DNS poisoning.
Denial of service – an attack in which a malicious bot sends more traffic to a targeted IP address than the programmers who planned its data buffers anticipated someone might send. The target becomes unable to resolve legitimate requests.
Distributed denial of service – the attacker uses a botnet to generate huge amounts of resolution requests to a targeted IP address.
DNS amplification – the attacker takes advantage of a DNS server that permits recursive lookups and uses recursion to spread the attack to other DNS servers.
Fast-flux DNS – the attacker swaps DNS records in and out with extreme frequency in order redirect DNS requests and avoid detection.

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ICO issues maximum £500,000 fine to Facebook

ICO issues maximum £500,000 fine to Facebook

 

The UK privacy watchdog has confirmed that Facebook has escaped a fine of more than $1bn under the GDPR, but will face the maximum under the DPA for failing to protect users’ personal information

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined Facebook £500,000 for serious breaches of data protection law involving Cambridge Analytica that affected 87 million users, including nearly 1.1 million Britons.

In July, the ICO issued a Notice of Intent to fine Facebook as part of a wide ranging investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes.

After considering representations from the company, the ICO has issued the fine to Facebook and confirmed the amount, which is the maximum allowable under the laws that applied at the time the incidents occurred.

The ICO’s investigation found that between 2007 and 2014, Facebook processed the personal information of users unfairly by allowing application developers access to their information without sufficiently clear and informed consent, and allowing access even if users had not downloaded a quiz app, but were simply “friends” with people who had.

Facebook also failed to keep the personal information secure because it did not make suitable checks on apps and developers using its platform. These failings meant one developer, Aleksandr Kogan and his company GSR, harvested the Facebook data of up to 87 million people worldwide, without their knowledge.

A subset of this data was later shared with other organisations, including SCL Group, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica which was involved in political campaigning in the US, the ICO said.

Even after the misuse of the data was discovered in December 2015, the ICO found that Facebook did not do enough to ensure those who continued to hold it had taken adequate and timely remedial action, including deletion. In the case of SCL Group, the ICO said Facebook did not suspend the company from its platform until 2018.

The ICO found that the personal information of at least one million UK users was among the harvested data and consequently put at risk of further misuse.

Elizabeth Denham, information commissioner mentioned that she feels that facebook failed to sufficiently protect the privacy of its users before, during and after the unlawful processing of this data. She felt that a company of its size and expertise should have known better and it should have done better.

This fine was served under the Data Protection Act 1998. It was replaced in May by the new Data Protection Act 2018, alongside the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These provide a range of new enforcement tools for the ICO, including maximum fines of £17m or 4% of global turnover.

Facebook considered these contraventions to be so serious they imposed the maximum penalty under the previous legislation. The fine would inevitably have been significantly higher under the GDPR. One of their main motivations for taking enforcement action is to drive meaningful change in how organisations handle people’s personal data.

Facebook’s work is continuing. There are still bigger questions to be asked and broader conversations to be had about how technology and democracy interact and whether the legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks we have in place are adequate to protect the principles on which their society is based.

A further update on the ICO investigation into data analytics for political purposes will be on 6 November, when the information commissioner will give evidence to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee.

In July, the ICO published an interim progress update on its investigation and also published a partner report, Democracy disrupted? Personal information and political influence, looking at the broader policy issues identified during the investigation along with findings and the ICO’s recommendations for future action.

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How Malwarebytes was founded PT2

How the Malwarebytes company started and grew.

How the Malwarebytes company started and grew.

What made Mrs Kleczynski initially more alarmed was that her teenage son had launched the business with a man in his 30s called Bruce Harrison. Marcin and Bruce had been writing software together for more than a year, after they first started talking on anti-virus forums.

“Here’s this 17-year-old kid… he’s this 35-year-old man. Imagine telling your mum?…” says Marcin.

Marcin and Bruce hadn’t actually met in person at the time. Bruce was a computer repairman in Massachusetts, and Marcin was at home in Chicago. They didn’t in fact see each other in the flesh until Malwarebytes was more than 12 months old.

“We didn’t meet until we made our first million about a year after we launched the product,” says Marcin. “Even that was kind of anti-climatic. It was just, ‘Hey, Bruce!’ – We had a handshake and moved on.”

Today Bruce, who is head of research, still lives and works on the US east coast, while Marcin is based in the head office in Silicon Valley. The company now has more than 750 employees, and overseas offices in the Republic of Ireland, Singapore and Estonia. Since 2014 it has secured $80m of investment funding.

Malwarebytes says its software now performs 187 million virus scans every month for individuals and businesses, and is installed more than 247,000 times every day. Like many antivirus companies it operates a “freemium” business model – the basic version is free, but you can then pay for more advanced protection.

While the company has consistently grown strongly, Marcin has learned some hard lessons along the way. The most difficult time was navigating the business through an almost catastrophic period in 2014 where the product glitched on a huge scale.

“We had a false positive which means we detected a piece of malicious software that wasn’t actually malicious at all,” he says.

“Our software ended up mistakenly bringing down hundreds of thousands of computers. We had 911 emergency centres go down, hospitals go down, it was bad. This has happened to every anti-virus company, by the way, but these mistakes can be company killing because you lose trust.

“But we fixed it and got through it. Even today, the system that we created to prevent this from happening again is called ‘The Malwarebytes Extinction Prevention System’ – our engineers have a great sense of humour.”

Carl Gottlieb, a cyber security podcaster, says that despite operating in the “notoriously hostile” antivirus industry “Malwarebytes is thriving”.

“With so many competing vendors, brand awareness is key, and that step which Malwarebytes took to offer a free product years ago is paying dividends, with so many customers knowing the name and already using it in their homes. What Marcin and his team have achieved is impressive to see.”

Still only 29, Marcin says his young age has been an advantage. He encourages other budding teen entrepreneurs to start their own business.

“You’ve heard my story, I started the company when I was living with my parents,” he says. “And then even at college, it was all paid for on a student loan, so I was getting fed. If you’re in college now, instead of going out and getting drunk with your friends, maybe take one night a week just to see if there’s anything you want to work on personally.”

He admits that his university years were harder than his friends’, that he barely passed his degree, and his social life no doubt suffered. However, he’s glad his mum forced him to go. “For one thing, I met my wife there,” he says.

How Malwarebytes was founded PT1

A lot of entrepreneurs have “a moment”. A moment that makes them realise they’re on to something.

start-up company Malwarebytes was less than a year old back in late 2008, but already gaining a good reputation in the cyber security world.

For Marcin Kleczynski it came while he was discreetly working on his antivirus software business from his student digs.

His start-up company Malwarebytes was less than a year old back in late 2008, but already gaining a good reputation in the cyber security world.

Marcin, then only 18, was just about managing to juggle running his start-up with participating in student life at the University of Illinois when he hit a snag.

“I was having some real trouble analysing the latest computer virus, when all of a sudden I get a white page on my screen that says ‘you’ve been banned from the school network due to malicious activity on your desktop’,” he says.

“They’d obviously detected that I had a virus on my computer, but didn’t realise it was deliberate. So I call the university IT helpline, and they send a kid, no older than me. He sits down at my computer and looks at it and says ‘boy you’ve really screwed this thing up’.

“Then, right in front of me, he logs onto my website and downloads Malwarebytes. I didn’t say anything, I stood behind him and watched him fix my computer with my software to get me back online. He left never knowing who I was, but to this day I love that moment.”

By the time Marcin graduated with a degree in computer science in 2012, he had quietly grown Malwarebytes into a business earning a few million dollars a year. All without any of his lecturers having any idea what was taking up his time, and pushing his grades down.

Today the company has an annual turnover of more than $126m, and millions of customers around the world.

Born in Poland in 1989, Marcin moved to the US with his family when he was three, settling in Chicago.

As a gaming-obsessed teenager, he’d accidentally got a virus when he was 14, and learned everything he needed to know about computer bugs from internet forums and a “For Dummies” book.

Formally launching Malwarebytes in January 2008 when he was just 18, it grew quickly, and he decided that starting university in September of that year would just slow him down. His mother had other thoughts.

“The business was becoming real, and so I went sheepishly to my mum and said ‘I don’t think I’m going to go to school’,” says Marcin. “Fifteen seconds later we were packing my stuff and I was going to school.”

CYBER 139 PASSED PDSC ASSESSMENT

CYBER 139 are very pleased to have passed the PDSC Digital Aware Assessment.

CYBER 139 are very pleased to have passed the PDSC Digital Aware Assessment.

Cyber 139 have demonstrated that we have implemented measures that are appropriate to own level of risk. Applicants are assessed by certified cyber security professionals through BSI.

Organisations who choose to participate in the new scheme will be able to obtain a certificate. These certificates are endorsed by the Police and BSI.

Cyber crime is a growing threat to organisations with over a third having suffered at least one cyber attack or breach in the past 12 months. The good news however, is that the overwhelming majority of cyber crime can be prevented by taking a few simple steps.

To help reduce your vulnerability to cyber crime, the Police Digital Security Centre (PDSC) and the British Standards Institution (BSI) have developed a new certification scheme to help your organisation understand where it is at risk and what you can do to protect yourself, your customers and suppliers.

If you want to save yourself stress, money and a damaged reputation from a cyber incident – for a cyber security incident prevention, protection and training please ring us now on 03333 393 139 or email [email protected] or complete the form on our contact page NOWContact Cyber 139

Nearly half of UK firms hit by cyber phishing attacks

Nearly  half of UK businesses have been compromised in the past two years using phishing attacks, despite high levels of cyber awareness and training.

Nearly  half of UK businesses have been compromised in the past two years using phishing attacks, despite high levels of cyber awareness and training.

Phishing attacks aimed at stealing legitimate user credentials have been used in the past 24 months to compromise 45% of UK organisations, according to research on behalf of cyber security firm Sophos.

Just over half (54%) of more than 900 IT directors polled in Western Europe said they had identified instances of employees replying to unsolicited emails or clicking on links contained within them, revealed a poll conducted by Sapio Research.

The study revealed that larger businesses are most likely to have been compromised by phishing attacks, despite also being most likely to conduct phishing and cyber threat awareness training.

Although businesses in the UK fell victim to phishing attacks at a similar rate to those in France (49%) and the Netherlands (44%), those in Ireland performed significantly better. Just 25% of Irish respondents said they had fallen victim to phishing in the past two years.

Across all respondents, 56% of companies employing between 500 and 750 people were identified as phishing victims in the past two years, while two-thirds (65%) had identified instances of employees replying to unsolicited emails or clicking on links contained within them.

By comparison, just 25% firms with fewer than 250 people and 36% of organisations with between 250 and 499 employees had been compromised by phishing in the same period.

Half of firms with fewer than 250 people offered training to help employees spot attacks, compared with 78% of those with between 500 and 1,000 people. And 79% of UK companies conduct regular cyber threat awareness training already, while 18% said they plan to offer it in the future.

Adam Bradley, UK managing director at Sophos, said criminals are adept at using social engineering to exploit human weakness, so while well-trained employees are an excellent deterrent, even the best user can slip up.

According to Bradley, phishing is one of the most common routes of entry for cyber criminals. As organisations grow, their risk of becoming a victim also increases as they become more lucrative targets and provide hackers with more potential points of failure.

Given the frequency of these attacks, organisations that don’t have basic infrastructure in place to spot people engaging with potentially harmful emails and whether their systems are compromised are likely to encounter some really significant problems.

Organisations should block malicious links, attachments and imposters before they reach users’ inboxes, said Bradley, and use the latest cyber security tools to stop ransomware and other advanced threats from running on devices even if a user clicks a malicious link or opens an infected attachment.

If you want to save yourself stress, money and a damaged reputation from a cyber incident – for a cyber security incident prevention, protection and training please ring us now on 03333 393 139 or email [email protected] or complete the form on our contact page NOWContact Cyber 139